Jump to content

King Kong 2019 California


Recommended Posts

I am going to write this in two pieces. The first part will be the venue, the contest in general, and the second part will be my own personal performance.

Newbury Park, California was the city. It is an upscale Los Angeles suburb approximately 45 miles Northwest of Downtown LA.It was held at The Training Hall, which is a gym owned by Odd Haugen, and I believe WSM Martins Licis is co-owner (could be mistaken on that). I think Odd's training facility was at his home until about four years ago. Martins was not there, as he was in Dubai. Martins works out there, and there was a banner on the building proclaiming that. 

As  was getting out of my car, I saw someone who I had not seen in 7 or 8 years; Robert Alva of San Bernardino. Robert hosted two small contests in 2009 and 2010 at his home. The one he hosted in 2010 had Odd travelling over 100 miles to be there, it was one of his first grip contests ever, and he used some of what he learned that day about grip contests to debut the first LA Fit Expo contest in January, 2011. But what we really remember from that day was 60 years 9 months old Haugen taking a run at Rich Williams-then-Apollon's Axle Record (502)  with 503 pounds, getting it past his knees, but not quite locking it out, THE DAY AFTER HE HAD AN EPIDURAL SHOT IN HIS NECK! Yep, right outside Robert's garage. Great to see Robert. 

There were 13 competitors, 11 men, two women. No "superstars" in this group. Four of the 11 men were "over 50", three of them over 60. The venue should get extra bonus points for that alone😎

Odd Haugen was the judge for virtually everything. Riccardo Magni (who did not compete) was definitely in charge, explaining the rules, the equipment, how the implements were best approached, and herding people so that there were as few gaps as possible. Quite frankly, it may have been the smoothest running contest in which I have participated, and this was my 23rd contest in which I was a participant. It started at 10 and ended before 3.

The two ladies, Megan Benefield and Sardana Osipova, both in their mid-20s, finished in the middle of the women's overall pack, which tells you how good the women's field is these days, because I thought that the two of them were quite strong on a pound-for-pound basis. 

On the men's side, John Machnik, a veteran of many California contests over the last seven years (lots of Fit Expos), ran away with first place, easily winning every event except the Dub Hub, which was won by Bunting. For the local contest, it was held on Strongman Scoring. The first 5 went like this:

1. John Machnik     43

2. Lee Bunting         37

3. Mike Corlett        36

4. Will Guilliani        35

5. Matt Arbogast    25

What I found interesting is that the "point spread" there does not seem like much, but check out how they spread in the Overall King Kong results:

1. Machnik     29th

2. Bunting      91st

3. Corlett       100th

4. Guilliani     121st

5. Arbogast   171st

Everyone seemed to have a great time. No one was pissing or groaning about their performance. It was a fun atmosphere, not many people knew each other beforehand, but there was a nice support system for all throughout the day. 

That's my"contest in general" report. 

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Had a great time too Mike forgot how much fun these contests were.  Everyone was cheering everyone to do there best.

Overall I came # 188

Considering how long I've been out competition I feel good on how well I  did . Robert Alva 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part II of my report, my personal stuff.

First, two items I left out of Part I. One is serious, one not so. 

Eric and Andrew, thank you, thank you. My wife hates hearing about anything to do with Grip stuff, but we have a "step-grandson" from Canada, so she likes Canadians. She knows a little about this contest, and refers to ER as "Canadian Eric". I think Eric missed his calling in life by not becoming some sort of International Peace Ambassador. Hard-working, talented, stays calm under pressure, sincere, honest, and strong. 

The other not-so-serious item I left off was regarding the venue. It was located in what I would call a "light industrial" part of town; the places were modern, clean, etc. But right next to Haugen's gym is a small restaurant that seemed a bit out of place for the neighborhood. As I walked by, there were a number of fellows (volunteers and competitors) that were eating outside in front of the place, and shouted their greetings to me. I never did check the place out, as I was too focused on getting situated, had brought my own food, and after the contest was over, went to Denny's with an old friend who was traveling home South instead of North, who has done the scorekeeping for darn near a dozen of Haugen contests over the years. Anyone eat there? What was it like? I told my wife: "Either the owner is lucky or a genius for having a place to eat right next to where the World's Strongest Man and his buddies work out. Could you imagine how much food those guys would consume? It wouldn't take very many customers!"😁

My stuff. I presume I was the only one in the US who competed who has their Medicare Card. So, lucky for you, you are going to hear some from the perspective of "Aging". I was never a fan of "weight classes" in Grip, nor was I a fan of "age classes" in grip. I thought that both were just excuses to support the "Everyone gets a trophy" American Mindset. I was 49 when I entered my first contest, and it has been almost 16 years since then. In recent years, as my body has changed, I have changed my attitude as well. I do NOT agree with the people who say "Age is just a number". If that were the case, Jerry Rice would still be playing in the NFL.

So, the focus for me is "PRs". Get a PR. Forget everything and everyone else. It is you versus you.


First Event. One Hand Flask. I don't own one. To train, I have a David Horne Euro Pinch device set at what I believe is the same width as the Flask. Received it as a gift in 2008, and never used it much, except for KK 2018 and 2019 preparation My 2018 best lift in KK was 39 Kgs. I felt I was better this time around, so my goal was 41, 42. Warmups didn't feel that great. I began with 31.75 with my left. One half up, then 90% up. Uh-oh. Switch to Right. Easy. Next, 36 Kgs. Left hand, no budge, then no budge. Switch to Right. 1/2 up, 1/2 up, then Full Lift. Hmm. Went to 38. Two Left Hand no budges. First attempt on Right. Good. Okay, just get a PR. Last attempt 39.5. Two no budge lefts. Tried about 5 Right Handed attempts. The best was the second one, about 2/3rds of the way up. No PR. Bummer. Only John Machnik of our group pulled more. 

Second Event. Crusher. I once owned an early version, which was far harder than the recent version. I didn't like it, and sold it in 2015. I trained using the Rolling Thunder. In 2016, I easily pulled 70 kgs, obviously leaving some on the table. I wasn't going to let that happen again. In 2018, my third attempt was a good 70 kgs., upped it to 75 kgs, and that didn't work. So, in 2019...I just want a PR. First attempt, 65 kgs, left hand. Easy! Oh boy, PR, here I come! Second attempt, 70 kgs, left hand, half-way up, switch to Right, easy. Tied my PR, oh yeah, I can get that PR, I can feel it already!  Not going to do a greedy jump though, no siree, not this time. Third attempt, 72.5 kgs. Left hand, no budge. Right Hand, 75%, 90%, then one-third up. Stop. I'll get it on the fourth, do not wear yourself out. Fourth and final attempt, 72.5 kgs. My notes only say 90%. No idea how many times I tried, but I went down swinging. The last time I stood there until the clock went down to a second or two. Riccardo said I was just millimeters away from the bar touching. Tied my 2016 and 2018 performances. A bit of a Bummer. Again, only John Machnik of our group pulled more. 

Third Event. Dub Hub, shallow hub. I hate this stupid thing. I purchased one a few months back and there were times when I would do many attempts/reps in training, and I never really improved on it. No matter how hard I tried, I never got it to take much chalk. The best I ever got was 36 pounds on my right hand, on one occasion. From 1999 to 2013, I did a lot of work on the IronMind Hub. In 2013, after I beat both Mike Burke and Alexey T on the Hub in San Jose, I pretty much gave it up, as where does one go from there? I was considering not entering the 2019 King Kong contest my numbers on the shallow hub were so sucky. But this is about PRs for me...

Prior to the contest, my goals written down said things like "Total Wild Card", "No Idea", "40 lbs at best", "18 kgs = 39.6 lbs". I was hoping there would be a "seasoned hub" that might help me out. First attempt, 13 kgs. Left Hand. First time, easy! It felt good. This device was way more friendly that my version. Second attempt, 15.5 kgs. Left Hand, first time, easy again! A left hand PR! Third attempt, 17.5 kgs. Left Hand, first attempt, EASY again! It exceeded my Right Hand Garage PR! I hadn't even attempted anything yet with my much-stronger Right Hand!. Last attempt, 20 kgs. Left hand, two no budges. No problem, there is my much stronger Right Hand. Nothin. I tried both hands every way and angle conceivable. At best, one inch of air. I came in 5th of our group. John Machnik did not win that event, as he had 22.50kgs., failing at 25, his lowest performance at KK. Lee Bunting won it with 22.75 kgs. Meanwhile, around the world, five women pulled more than I. But the reality is that I pulled 38.5 pounds, which was 2 1/2 pounds more than my best, a PR. I was not bummed, but a little surprised that my right hand did not pull off that 20 kgs. 

Fourth and last event, IronMind's Little Big Horn. I received, as a gift in 2004, the old IM LBH version (my big brother was discarding grip gadgets as I was getting more into it). Never trained it until prior to this contest, never. I had one experience with the New Version. It was the San Jose Fit Expo in 2013. I just barely got 70 kgs that day, which was the opening weight.  Haugen was into his "mega jumps" in calling lifts in contests at that time, the place was packed with Pro Strongmen, and the next level was 165 pounds, and everyone either passed or failed on that weight. The last weight was 176 pounds, and Burke was the only one who got it. Haugen and Alexey both missed. It was a five-way tie at 154 pounds. That day was my best competition day of my life, and it was six years ago. My goal I wrote down was "73 kgs, 160.6 pounds". I had never trained on the actual device. 

Opening attempt. 60 kgs, left hand, easy. Second attempt, 65 kgs, left hand, easy. Third attempt, 71 kgs, a PR attempt. Left hand, one half up, right hand easy😎 Fourth attempt, 73 kgs, my notes say "one-half up". Didn't hit my goal, but pulled more than Alexey did in 2013, Ha! And, finished by exceeding the only Contest PR for me for the day. Sarah Chappelow - - you beat me by 1.62 kgs! 

Riccardo said to me that I didn't seem to have four good lifts in me. I don't think it is an "age" thing. Switching from left to right means I don't need four good lifts. I suppose that for me my Left Hand was my personal MVP for the day. My son said the same thing to me as Riccardo did. He is a former "Elite" Powerlifter, and appears to know what he is talking about. But overall, I was very happy with every single event, as I definitely did not leave anything on the table. 

Aging. The areas that are affected the most in grip are, in my opinion, the all body lifts, like the Axle. I think the least affected are grippers, possibly pinch as well.  I have had 21 years of observations on the subject, and am not done with the observing, tinkering, pushing, and competing yet. 

Normally my write-ups are not so personal, and I apologize for boring you. But there is something about getting that Medicare Card that really hits you, and it changed the way I wrote this time.

Great time, good people, well run function, all across the world. 

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
On 11/2/2019 at 11:21 AM, Hubgeezer said:

So, the focus for me is "PRs". Get a PR. Forget everything and everyone else. It is you versus you.

YES!  I missed King Kong this year, so I am just reviewing people's reports now that I posted my Gripmas writeup.  I agree with this philosophy 100 per cent, except perhaps for those folk who are actually in competition for world records, which is not me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Unfortunately, your content contains terms that we do not allow. Please edit your content to remove the highlighted words below.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy policies.